With Apple challenging a federal court order to help the FBI access the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino terrorists, companies, politicians, celebrities and others are choosing sides.
Silicon Valley comes to Apple’s defense
Following Apple CEO Tim Cook‘s decision to fight the federal court order and posting an open letter detailing the company’s refusal, a number of tech leaders and others immediately jumped to Apple and Cook’s defense.
Facebook issued a statement yesterday saying that while the authorities do “essential work” to keep people safe, Facebook promised to “fight aggressively” against government pushes to lessen the security of tech products.
“We condemn terrorism and have total solidarity with victims of terror. Those who seek to praise, promote, or plan terrorist acts have no place on our services. We also appreciate the difficult and essential work of law enforcement to keep people safe,” the statement read.
“When we receive lawful requests from these authorities we comply. However, we will continue to fight aggressively against requirements for companies to weaken the security of their systems. These demands would create a chilling precedent and obstruct companies’ efforts to secure their products.”
Google CEO Sundar Pichai expressed his support of Apple’s decision on Twitter saying, “Forcing companies to enable hacking could compromise users’ privacy.”
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak took to the airwaves and explained his support for Cook on CNBC. “I’m not intimately involved in the fight, but I’m definitely against [the court order],” Woz said. “I don’t think that the phone should have backdoors. I believe that Apple’s brand recognition and value and profits is largely based on an item called trust.”
WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum, no stranger to legal battles, shared Cook’s letter on Facebook adding he “couldn’t agree more” with Apple’s decision not to cooperate with the FBI.
“We must not allow this dangerous precedent to be set,” Koum wrote. “Today our freedom and our liberty is at stake.”
Shameless self-promotion from John McAfee
John McAfee, the chief of the security company and maker of antivirus software, published an op-ed piece yesterday in Business Insider where he offered to help the FBI with no small measure of braggadocio.
“With all due respect to Tim Cook and Apple, I work with a team of the best hackers on the planet,” McAfee wrote. “I would eat my shoe live on national television if we could not break the encryption on the San Bernardino iPhone. This is a pure and simple fact.”
McAfee then claimed that it would take he and his team three weeks to hack the phone and that he would do it for free.
“If you accept my offer, then you will not need to ask Apple to place a back door in its product, which will be the beginning of the end of America,” he added.
Not everyone is on Apple’s side, and a couple of them want to be president
Not surprisingly Donald Trump had something to say on the issue and did so by talking to “Fox & Friends.”
“I agree 100 percent with the courts. In that case, we should open it up,” he said.
“I think security, overall, we have to open it up and we have to use our heads. We have to use common sense. Somebody the other day called me a common-sense conservative. We have to use common sense.”
It’s understandable that someone running for the Republican nomination would be taking this position and Marco Rubio wasn’t to be left out.
Rubio made it clear that he believes being “good corporate citizen is important” and that Apple should “voluntarily comply” with the court order speaking with CNN.
“If we passed a law that required Apple and these companies to create a backdoor, one, criminals could figure that out and use it against you,” said Rubio. “And number two, there’s already encrypted software that already exists, not only now but in the future created in other countries. We would not be able to stop that, so there would still be encryption capabilities—they just wouldn’t be American encryption capabilities.”
“We’re going to have to figure out a way forward working with Silicon Valley and the tech industry on this. There has to be a way to deal with with this issue that continues to protect the privacy of Americans but creates some process by which law-enforcement intelligence agencies could access encrypted information. I don’t have a magic solution for it today—it’s a complicated new issue.”
Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arizona lashed out at Apple’s decision to “protect a dead ISIS terrorist’s p?rivacy over the security of the American people.”
One of the few Democrats who chose to side with the federal court in this case was vice-chair of the Senate intelligence, Dianne Feinstein of California.
Feinstein argued on PBS NewsHour that Apple should “produce the information” to the FBI based on a “probable cause warrant.” She then stressed that if Apple refused to comply who would draft a bill to change the law thereby forcing Apple’s (and others’) compliance.
“We are in jeopardy if you cannot, through proper evidence submitted by a probable cause warrant, be able to open these systems,” Sen. Feinstein said.